c 1520 Choir Psalter Leaf - Elaborate Puzzle Initial


Original leaf from a manuscript Spanish Choir (Ferial) Psalter on animal parchment.  (550 x 380mm – 21 ¾ x 15 ¼’’) 

The manuscript text and music (on a five-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 450 years ago. Signed by the scribe “L. Ruiz” in one of the initials elsewhere in the parent manuscript !!!              

Spain (Dominican Use), c. 1520.

One exceptional illuminated initial (6  x 6 ¼’’) in red & blue with elaborate internal & external penwork "puzzle design" (in the Moorish influenced Mudejar style) in red & violet. The internal design contains flowers, fruit & a bird; ten one-line illuminated initials alternating in red with violet internal & external penwork, & blue with red internal & external penwork. There is an unobtrusive patched repair to two holes in the upper left corner, in the margin and in the stave area above the initial.

The elaborate illuminated “D” begins Psalm 26 (King James 27: 1-7: “Dominus…” (The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? Whilst the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh. My enemies that trouble me, have themselves been weakened, and have fallen. If armies in camp should stand together against me, in this will I be confident. One think I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…)

The psalms were central to medieval liturgy, and constituted the core of the Divine Office.  In addition to the psalms, a ferial psalter, also known as a choir psalter, contained items of the Divine Office that did not change from day to day, often including the invitatories, antiphons, canticles, short responsories, hymns, and litanies.

As is usual with Medieval and Renaissance parchment, the hair side of the leaf is darker than the flesh side, but may take ink somewhat better.  The differences in tone caused scribes to arrange their quires so that the hair side of one sheet faced the hair side of the next, and the flesh side faced the flesh side.

Shipped unmatted

  • Inventory# IM-12119